A Richmond-based chain tucked in unassuming corners of the city, the Urban Farmhouse market and cafe is not only a delicious alternative to the typical coffee shop but also a mecca for eco-friendly, plant-based, locally-sourced eats and health-conscious products. The Farmhouse is dedicated to providing fresh and natural foods as well as an inviting atmosphere for sipping on a latté, studying, participating in a writer’s group, or just sitting and chatting with friends.
On an uncharacteristically balmy Sunday morning in late January, I went to the Scott’s Addition’s Urban Farmhouse location for lunch. When I walked in, I scanned the large, open space full of tattered sofas and hair-dyed millennials. The familiar energy and natural lighting of the cafe made me feel like I was like I was in my own living room; that is, if my living room was populated by VCU students and furnished with rustic-chic décor. I sat on a shabby couch and reviewed this season’s menu and eventually went up to the smiling, bearded cashier to order. I asked him about the daily soups and which of them were vegetarian, and he suggested one in particular: the spinach and bean soup. I ordered a cup, along with a half havarti and mushroom sandwich. I decided to try the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mocha. I went back to my cozy perch until my food was ready.
The mocha came out first, and I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor. I did, however, think it was a bit sweet and more like a hot chocolate than a mocha. As I noted the strange texture of the foam on it, the barista called my name again and apologetically told me he may have forgotten to put the espresso in my drink. He remade it, and all was forgiven, considering how smooth and creamy the drink was the second time around, with the dark roasted espresso and chocolate cutting through the fruity sweetness of the raspberry to create a flavor profile that was decadent but not overwhelming.
The soup was hearty and so filling that I could barely finish half of it. Not only was it garnished beautifully with carrots and a vegetable slaw, but it was also texturally interesting, with whole beans, a smooth base, and spinach leaves throughout. The havarti and mushroom sandwich took grilled cheese to a whole new level. The bread was fresh and perfectly grilled to be slightly crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside, with melted, gooey cheese contrasted by a nutty, meaty mushroom spread. This sandwich proves that meat-free diets can still be phenomenally satisfying.
I also tried my friend’s Veggie Sausage and Egg sandwich, and although some people might be turned off by the idea of a “fake meat,” this one was more of a unique ingredient in and of itself. The sausage, made in Louisa County, was delicately spiced and reminiscent of the texture of an actual sausage link, without trying to replicate the taste of one. This made it mesh wonderfully with the fluffy scrambled eggs and toast it was served on.
Although my friend and I ordered vegetarian meals, the Urban Farmhouse also has choices for carnivorous, vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free individuals. Many of the ingredients they use are also available for sale, displayed in the refrigerators and shelves that line the walls of the Farmhouse, from bags of coffee, to non-dairy ice cream, to cage-free eggs.
Overall, my experience at the Urban Farmhouse was wonderful, and the bright but relaxed ambiance was perfectly suited for the clean, fresh, delectable food. I would recommend this establishment to anybody looking for a modern, environmentally friendly change to their normal soup-and-sandwich routine.
All photos by Sarah Smithson.